Bengaluru, Nov 11 (SocialNews.XYZ) Any economy will go to ruins if you don’t take care of the environment.
“You spent crores on building a Sri Ram temple. Can temples convert carbon dioxide into oxygen? The statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel will not make oxygen out of carbon dioxide. No one is speaking that language and the world is facing a disaster. We face disasters daily," opines Dr AN Yallappa Reddy, former Environment Secretary, Government of Karnataka.
Reddy was also former Chairman, Bengaluru Environment Trust and is rendering his services at present as Technical Advisor to the Horticulture Department.
“We cannot have a thriving economy at the cost of the ecology. The economy has nothing to do with health; ecology is required for our health. Health is more important than wealth. What are you going to do with millions, if your kidney is suffering? When you suffer heart disease or mental problems, what are you going to do with your wealth? Is there any value to wealth? There is so much stress, suffering because of neglect of the environment,” he says.
Reddy further explains that ethics and ecology are important and without ethics in ecology, the economy will have no value at all.
“Somehow everyone is after money, wealth and development. They are not talking about the rights of the rivers, mountains. Why do we need a hill, water catchment area, trees and forests? What is their role? Are there any substitutes for all this? Are there machines to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen? Is there a machine to make water? Our Vedas and Upanishads have clearly told us what needs to be done and what need not be done,” he says.
“Half of Bengaluru suffers from one problem or the other. In the world many cities have poor air quality but the number of polluted cities and rivers (that we have) are found nowhere. Nowhere in the world are mountains being exploited for mining like it is being done here and it is being called development,” Reddy says.
“What is development if it is not ensuring good air and water for the citizens? Everything else is secondary. Primarily we need fertile soil, breathable air, drinkable water, Mother Earth and greenery. How can human beings live without them?” Reddy questions.
“Indians are thinking they are progressing. For them development means real estate business, more vehicles, roads, air traffic, road widening, destruction of trees for widening roads, destruction of forests to make way for development such as port, airports. For all these activities trees are sacrificed,” Reddy laments.
“They think that these activities are development. But, what happens is that public health is not being taken into account and public health is deteriorating. School going children are suffering diseases from such a young age and are being treated with steroids. Because of that, their endocrine glands are being affected and they become fat. The moment you grow fat you develop diabetes, heart problems, blood pressure and other obesity-related chronic diseases,” he says.
“Unfortunately, even today those who are in power think that air traffic is important, airports and double-track trains are important, wider roads to accommodate the ever-growing vehicular traffic are important. All this is in a cumulative land area of two per cent, (India’s land area at the global level is two per cent) with 18 to 20 per cent of the world’s population share.
“Now, that 18 to 20 per cent of the population is becoming richer. The middle class is increasing. As the higher middle class and middle class can afford to buy more vehicles, houses and apartments, all this is affecting public health as trees are being cut to accommodate this burgeoning demand for real estate and roads and air quality is deteriorating fast. Not only in the winter but also in the summer and in the monsoon season the air quality is bad.
“Indians are suffering all kinds of diseases due to this and we are spending huge amounts of money in building hospitals, on medicines, and treatment. The national and out of pocket healthcare expenditure has been increasing for the last three decades. It has doubled. Unfortunately, nothing is taken into cognizance,” he explains.
“You must put an end to certain things if you are looking at a solution to these environmental problems. Don’t add more private vehicles to the roads. Huge taxes must be levied on the purchase of private transport and emphasis should be laid on public transport, car-pooling.
“Likewise the construction sector will also have to adopt green technologies. Whenever deforestation is carried out you must reserve 20 per cent of the area for tree plantation. You should put rigid regulations,” he suggests.
“Our present Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act is diluted. People commit an environmental offence, pay a fine and then continue to do what they want. This is also the attitude of the government at present. Who should be held accountable for this? The EIA Act should have more teeth. Risk should be analysed and rules must be enforced strictly,” he says.
As much as 60 to 70 per cent of the forests have vanished at the global level and it is much more in India but no one will reveal this data. Forest departments and forest research institutes will also not convey the truth. They are not allowed to tell the truth. When I was the Secretary, I was told not to scare people by giving figures,” Reddy recalls.